World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Allan V. Cox

Allan Verne Cox
Born (1926-12-17)December 17, 1926
Santa Ana, California
Died January 27, 1987
Palo Alto, California
Residence United States
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Fields geomagnetism, rock magnetism
Institutions US Geological Survey 1959–1962; Stanford University 1967–1987
Alma mater University of California Berkeley (PhD, 1959)
Doctoral advisor John Verhoogen
Known for geomagnetic reversals
Notable awards Vetlesen Prize (1970)
Arthur L. Day Medal (1975)
John Adam Fleming Medal

Allan Verne Cox (December 17, 1926 – January 27, 1987) was an American geophysicist. His work on dating geomagnetic reversals, with Richard Doell and Brent Dalrymple, made a major contribution to the theory of plate tectonics. Allan Cox won numerous awards, including the prestigious Vetlesen Prize, and was the president of the American Geophysical Union. He was the author of two books on plate tectonics and over a hundred scientific papers. On January 27, 1987, Cox died in a bicycle accident.



Cox began studying chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. However, after a single quarter he left school and spent three years in the United States Merchant Marine. He returned to Berkeley, but had so little interest in chemistry that his grades were too low to avoid being drafted into the United States Army. When he returned, he switched his major to geology. His research career in geology began in 1950 when he took a position as a field assistant to Clyde Wahrhaftig studying glaciation in the Alaska Range; the pair later had a long romantic relationship.[1][2] For his graduate research at the University of California, Berkeley, Cox concentrated on rock magnetism with John Verhoogen as his supervisor. Verhoogen was one of the few geologists of the time who took the hypothesis of continental drift seriously. His stance made a deep impression on Cox.[3]

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1959, Cox joined the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. There he collaborated with another geophysicist, Richard Doell, on rock magnetism. The two were particularly interested in geomagnetic reversals. At the time, very little was known about the timing of reversals. The rock specimens they collected were too young (a few millions of years) to date accurately until the potassium-argon dating method was developed. Cox and Doell arranged for the USGS to hire Brent Dalrymple, a graduate from Berkeley with expertise in this method. The three succeeded in creating the first geomagnetic polarity time scale. This work made possible the first test, by Frederick Vine and Drummond Matthews, of the seafloor spreading hypothesis.[3]

Cox was hired as a professor at Stanford University in 1967. He became Dean of the School of Earth Sciences in 1979 and demonstrated a talent for administration that was widely acknowledged by his colleagues.[3]

Cox died in a bicycle accident, colliding with a large redwood tree after falling off a cliff on Tunitas Creek road, in the mountains Northwest of Stanford University. The San Mateo County coroner concluded that Cox's death was a suicide.[4] Cox was normally very safety conscious and had exceptionally not worn a helmet on that day. Cox's death came five days after he learned he was going to be charged with child molestation. Cox allegedly had molested the mentally disturbed son of one of his graduate students since the boy was fourteen years old. Cox had told the father of the molested child that he would kill himself if the allegations were reported to the police.[5]


Cox was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.[3] In 1969 the American Geophysical Union awarded him the John Adam Fleming medal for research in geomagnetism;.[6] In 1970 he was awarded the prestigious Vetlesen Prize, along with G. Brent Dalrymple, Richard Doell and S. Keith Runcorn, for contributions to geology and geophysics.[7] In 1976 the Geological Society of America awarded him the Arthur L. Day Medal for the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems.[8] He was the president of the American Geophysical Union from 1978 to 1980.[9] In 1984 the United States National Academy of Sciences awarded him the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship.

After his death, a number of memorials to him were created. The American Geophysical Union had the annual Allan Cox Lecture from 1998 to 2001; this lecture was replaced by the Edward Bullard lecture.[10] The Geological Society of America (Geophysics Division) selects a student each year for the Allan V. Cox Student Research Award;[11] and Stanford University awards the Allan Cox Medal for Faculty Excellence Fostering Undergraduate Research.[12]



  • Cox, Allan (1973). Plate tectonics and geomagnetic reversals.  
  • Cox, Allan; Hart, Robert Brian (1986). Plate Tectonics: How It Works.  

Selected scientific articles

  • Cox, Allan V.; Doell, R. R. (1960). "Review of paleomagnetism".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Doell, R. R. (1962). "Magnetic properties of basalt in hole EM 7, Mohole Project".  
  • Doell, R. R.; Cox, Allan V. (1963). "The accuracy of the paleomagnetic method as evaluated from historic Hawaiian lava flows".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Dalrymple, G. B.; Doell, R. R. and (1963). "Geomagnetic polarity epochs and Pleistocene geochronometry".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Doell, R. R. (1964). "Long period variations of the geomagnetic field".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Doell, R. R. and; Dalrymple, G. B. (1964). "Reversals of the earth's magnetic field—Recent paleomagnetic + geochronological data provide information on time + frequency of field reversals".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Doell, R. R.; Dalrymple, G. B. and (1965). "Potassium-argon age and paleomagnetism of the Bishop tuff, California".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Dalrymple, G. B. (1967). "Statistical analysis of geomagnetic reversal data and the precision of potassium-argon dating".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Dalrymple, G. B. and; Doell, R. R. (1967). "Reversals of the earth's magnetic field".  
  • Cox, Allan V. (1968). "Lengths of geomagnetic polarity intervals.".  
  • Cox, A. (1968). "Latitude dependence of the angular dispersion of the geomagnetic field".  
  • Cox, Allan V. (1969). "Geomagnetic reversals".  
  • Marshall, Monte; Cox, Allan (1972). "Magnetic changes in  
  • Hillhouse, J.; Cox, Allan V. (1976). "Brunhes-Matuyama polarity transition".  
  • Cox, Allan V.; Gordon, R. G. (1984). "Paleolatitudes determined from paleomagnetic data from vertical cores".  
  • Gordon, R. G.; Cox, A; O'H.are, S. (1984). "Paleomagnetic Euler poles and the apparent polar wander and absolute motion of North America since the Carboniferous".  

See also


  1. ^ "Clyde Wahrhaftig & Allan Cox: Geologists and educators". Gay, Lesbian Or Bisexual Employees Club at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Brookhaven National Laboratory. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Queer Scientists of Historical Note". National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals. 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Krauskopf 2011
  4. ^ Bill Workman (March 13, 1987). "Stanford Dean killed himself, coroner rules".  
  5. ^ Lisa Lapin (January 30, 1987). "Was death a suicide born of sex probe".  
  6. ^ AGU 2011
  7. ^ Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory 2011
  8. ^ GSA 2011
  9. ^ AGU 1999
  10. ^ AGU Geomagnetism & Paleomagnetism 2011
  11. ^ GSA Geophysics Division 2009
  12. ^ Stanford 2011


  • "Awards & Honors". Geomagnetism & Paleomagnetism section of the American Geophysical Union. Retrieved September 2011. 
  • Cox, Allan (1973). Plate tectonics and geomagnetic reversals.  
  • "Allan V. Cox Student Research Award". GSA Geophysics Division. Retrieved September 2011. 
  • Glen, William (1982). The Road to Jaramillo: Critical Years of the Revolution in Earth Science.  
  • Krauskopf, Konrad B. (2011). "Allan V. Cox:December 17, 1926 — January 27, 1987".  
  • "Allan V. Cox Medal". School of Humanities and Sciences.  

External links

  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.